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virtues and defects. His virtues, are eminently great. In all his orations art is conspicuous. He begins commonly with a regular exordium, and with much address prepossesses the hearers, and studies to gain their affections. His method is clear and his arguments arranged with great propriety. In clearness of method he has advantage over Demosthenes. Every thing is in its proper place; he never attempts to move before he has endeavoured to convince ; and in moving, particularly the softer passions, he is very successful. No one ever knew the force of words better than Cicero. He rolls them along with the greatest beauty and pomp; and in the structure of his sentences is eminently curious and exact. He is always full and flowing ; never abrupt. He amplifies every thing ; yet though his manner is on the whole diffuse, it is often happi. ly varied, and suited to the subject. When a great public object roused his mind, and demanded indignation and force, he departs considerably from that loose and declamatory manner, to which be at other times is addicted, and becomes very forcible and vehement.
This great orator, however, is not without defects. In most of his orations there is too much art. He seems often desirous of obtaining admiration, rather than of operating conviction. He is sometimes therefore showy, rather than solid ; and diffusc, where he ought to be urgent. His periods are always round and sonorous; they cannot be accused of monotony, for they possess variety of cadence; but from too great fondness for magnificence, he is sometimes deficient in strength. Though tho services which he performed for his
country, were very considerable, yet he is too much his own panegyrist. Ancient manners, which imposed fewer lesuaints on the side of decor'um, may in some degree excuse, but cannot entirely justify liis vanity.
Whether Demosthenes or Cicero were the most perfect orator is a question, on which critics are not agreed. Fenelon, the celebrated Archbishop of Cambray, and author of Telemachus, seems to bave stated their merits with great justice and perspicuity. His judgment is given in his reflections on rhetoric and poetry. We shall translate the passage, though not, it is feared, without los. ing much of the spirit of the original. “I do not hesitate to declare," says he, “ that I think Demosthenes superior to Cicero. I am persuaded, no one can admire Cicero more than I do. He adorns whatever he attempts. He does honour to language. He disposes of words in a manner peculiar to himself.
His style has great variety of character. Whenever he pleases, he is even concise and vehement ; for instance, against Catiline, against Verres, against Anthony. But ornament is too visible in his writings. His art is wonderful, but it is perceived. When the orator is providing for the safety of the republic, he forgets not himself, nor permits others to forget him. Demosthenes seems to escape from himself, and to see nothing but his country. He seeks not elegance of expression; unsought, he possesses it. He is superior to admiration. He makes use of language, as a modest man does of dress, only to cover him. He thunders, be lightens. He is a torrent which carries every thing before it. We cannot criticise, because we are not ourselves.
His subject enchants our attention, and makes us forget his language. We lose him from our sight; Philip alone occupies our minds. I am delighted with both these orators; but I confess that I am less affected by the infinite art and magnificent eloquence of Cicero, than by the rapid simplicity of Demosthenes.”
The reign of eloquence among the Romans was very short. It expired with Cicero. Nor can we wonder at this; for liberty was no more, and the government of Rome was delivered over to a succession of the most execrable tyrants that ever disgraced and scourged the human race.
In the decline of the Roman Empire the introduction of Christianity gave rise to a new kind of Eloquence in the apologies, sermons, and pastoral writings of the fathers. But none of them afforded very just models of Eloquence. Their language, as soon as we descend to the third or fourth century, becomes harsh ; and they are generally infected with the taste of that age, a love of swollen and strained thoughts and of the play of words.
As nothing in the middle ages deserves attention, we pass now to the state of Eloquence in modern times. Here it must be confessed, that in no European nation public speaking has been valued so highly, or cultivated with so much care, as in Greece or Rome. The genius of the world appears in this respect to have undergone some alteration. The two countries, where we might expect to find most of the spirit of Eloquence, are France and Great Britain : France on account of the distinguished turn of its inhabitants toward all the liberal arts, and of the
encouragement which more than a century past these arts have received from the public ; Great Britain on account of its free goverment and the liberal spirit and genius of its people. Yet in neither of these countries has oratory risen nearly to the degree of its ancient splendour.
Several reasons may be given, why modern Eloquence has been so confined and bumble in its efforts. In the first place, it seems, that this change must in part be ascribed to that accurate turn of thinking which has been so much cultivated in modern times. Our public speakers are obliged to be more reserved than ihe an., cients, in their attempts to elevate the imagination, and warm the passions; and by the inilu-ence of prevailing taste their own genius is chastened perhaps in too great a degree. It is probable also, that we ascribe to our correctness and good sense, what is chiefly owing to the phlegm and natural coldness of our disposition. For the vivacity and sensibility of the Greeks and Romans, especially of the former, seem to have been much superior to ours, and to have given them a higher relish for all the beauties of ora. tory.
Though the Parliament of Great Britain is the noblest field which Europe at present affords to a public speaker, yet Eloquence has ever been there a more feeble instrument than in the popular assemblies of Greece and Rome. Under some foreign reigns the iron hand of arbitrary power checked its efforts; and in latter times ministerial influence has generally rendered it of small importance. At the bar our disadvantage in comparison with the ancients is great. Among them.
Eloquence of Popular Assemblies.
the judges were commonly numerous ; the laws were few and simple ; the decision of causes was left in a great measure to equity and the sense of mankind. Hence the field for judicial Eloquence was ample. But at present the system of law is much more complicated. The knowledge of it is rendered so laborious as to be the study of a man's life. Speaking is therefore only a secondary accomplishment, for which he has little lei.
With respect to the pulpit it has been a great disadvantage, that the practice of reading sermons instead of repeating them has prevailed so universally in England. This indeed may have introduced accuracy; but Eloquence has been much enfeebled. Another circumstance too has hcen prejudicial. The sectaries and fanatics before the restoration used a warm, zealous, and popular manner of preaching; and their adherents afterwards continued to distinguish themselves by similar ardour. Hatred of these sects drove the established church into the opposite extreme of a studied coolness of expression. Hence from the art of persuasion, whieh preaching ought ever to be, it has passed in England into mere reasoning and instruction.
ELOQUENCE OF POPULAR ASSEMBLIES.
The foundation of every species of Eloquenee, is good sense and solid thought. It should be the first study of him, who means to address a popu